Lifestyle and home remediesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Lice can live for about two days without a meal, and nits will die within a week if they're not kept at the same temperature as that found near the human scalp. That's why it's so uncommon for people to be infected with lice by any method other than head-to-head contact. All close contacts need to be examined. Despite this low risk, you may want to:
- Wash items in hot water. Wash bedding, stuffed animals, clothing and hats with hot, soapy water — at least 130 F (54.4 C) — and dry them at high heat for at least 20 minutes. Soak brushes and combs in very hot water for five to 10 minutes.
- Seal items in plastic bags. Place bedding, clothing and unwashable items in an airtight bag for three to four days. This will kill live lice, and newly hatched lice will die because they have no nutrition.
- Vacuum. Give the floor and furniture a good vacuuming.
- Goldstein AO, et al. Pediculosis capitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Head lice: Frequently asked questions (FAQs). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/gen_info/faqs.html. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Head lice: Treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/treatment.html. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Bedell DA, et al. Parasitology. In: Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/linkTo?type=bookPage&isbn=978-1-4160-2467-5&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2467-5..50029-4. Accessed April 25, 2011.
- Schlossberg D. Arthropods and leeches. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2007. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/128370895-5/822078666/1492/1286.html#4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-2805-5..50385-2--cesec27_16133. Accessed April 26, 2011.
- Burkhart CN, et al. Fomite transmission in head lice. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2007;56:1044.
- Treating head lice. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM173526.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2011.
- Head lice: Prevention and control. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control. http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/prevent.html. Accessed April 26, 2011.
- American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical report — Head lice. Pediatrics. 2010;126:392.